A Canadian intelligence-service report reveals the People's Republic of China has infiltrated Canadian society with a network of agents, operatives and organized-crime figures.
A controversial classified document that labels the People's Republic of China (PRC) as Canada's greatest national-security threat has grabbed headlines and national exposure as Canadians prepared to head to the polls on Nov. 27 in a federal election. With billions of dollars and thousands of operatives and sympathizers in Canada backing them up, says the report, a dangerous consortium of Chinese triads, PRC agents and Hong Kong tycoons has infiltrated Canadian society. While weapons and heroin are being smuggled into Canada, high-tech secrets, ownership of key companies and large sums of money are being procured by China, according to the classified report.
The report -- officially titled Chinese Intelligence Services and Triads Financial Links in Canada and code-named "Sidewinder" -- has been at the center of a heated debate for 16 months as the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) has tried to explain why it buried the carefully documented analysis in 1997.
Brian McAdam, a former Canadian immigration-control officer in Hong Kong, is an internationally renowned expert on the Chinese triads -- networks of professional criminals dating back to imperial times -- and has written scores of sensitive reports on their organization and activities. He watched with alarm as they wove their way into the fabric of the Canadian economy and he played a key role in getting the triad investigation under way.
McAdam first became involved in identifying triad leaders while in Hong Kong. "It was an unexpected part of the job. I didn't realize how many were coming to Canada," says McAdam. He began asking questions when he noticed the size of the investment portfolios of the triad leaders headed for Vancouver. Soon he discovered that an alliance had been formed in 1984 between the triads and the communist government in Beijing, effectively granting the criminal syndicates permission to continue operating out of Hong Kong when it reverted to PRC control in 1997 in return for their help in gaining an international business presence.
Meanwhile, "I spent the last two years of my career being ostracized by my colleagues as I exposed corruption in the embassy there," he tells Insight. But while he was making enemies, McAdam was becoming the leading Western expert on the depth and magnitude of the Chinese networks. When he returned to Canada he became a key instigator of Sidewinder.
Not himself a part of the CSIS, McAdam passed his investigative work to Michel Juneau, a French Canadian now living in Ottawa. Juneau is a skilled professional who has spent 21 years working in the shadowy world of intelligence. Articulate and highly educated, he was the chief of the Asia Pacific region for the strategic analysis at CSIS in 1995 when the Canadian investigation of the triads began. According to the original Sidewinder report, the Sidewinder team was tasked to assess the threat posed to Canada by the growing number of Canadian companies coming under the ownership of members or associates of triads with affiliations to Beijing's intelligence services.
"I don't think they are going for any type of business monopoly; I think they are going for world hegemony," Juneau tells Insight. "What they've learned is that control is not the real power -- influence is the real power."
The Sidewinder report was the result of a joint study by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the CSIS. The material dovetailed with a report issued by the House Select Committee on U.S. National Security and Military/Commercial Concerns with the People's Republic of China, which detailed similar Chinese infiltration of U.S. policymaking.
Al Santoli, national-security assistant to Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif. …